Gov, AG lawyers make case in battle over 38 Studios grand jury documents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The battle over grand jury documents used in the 38 Studios investigation is now in the hands of Superior Court Justice Alice Gibney.

Rhode Island’s governor and attorney general have been at odds over whether those documents should be made public. Both sides presented their arguments in court Wednesday morning.

While Governor Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin are both Democrats, they have completely opposite views on whether the 38 Studios grand jury documents should be released.

The governor is asking the court to order the release of all secret grand jury documents tied to the previous criminal investigation in Rhode Island’s failed deal with Curt Schilling’s significantly publicly-funded video game company.

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While the investigation yielded no criminal charges, the governor’s legal team is arguing these are extraordinary circumstances and the public has a right to see the grand jury records.

“The 38 Studios saga really shook the public’s faith in government. The attorney general argues that garden-variety cases of public interest should not warrant disclosure of grand jury records. And we agree with that principle. But, this is not a garden-variety case,” said Jeremy Licht, attorney for the governor.

Kilmartin and his office essentially stand alone, arguing the documents should be kept sealed to protect the grand jury process.

“The governor is asking this court to create a grand jury transparency exception to justify the release of the records. An exception that’s unheard of in the law and has never been used by any court,” said Assistant Attorney General Susan Urso.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island House of Representatives is siding with the governor — voting unanimously last month for legislation that seeks the release of the full investigation records. The ACLU is also backing the release of the documents.

There was no indication on how soon Justice Gibney might issue a written opinion, explaining her decision.